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which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, spake before concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus.” Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, “Go unto this people and say, hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand.” “ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith.” “ The Holy Ghost saith, to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified; whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.” “I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."
It deserves particular notice, that the treasures of wisdom and knowledge stored up in Christ himself, as the incomparable “Teacher come from God," are attributed to an immeasurable communication of the Spirit. " The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.” “ He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.†” The very name Christ denotes our Saviour's unction by the Spirit.
Let no one imagine that these plain Scriptural statements regarding the origin of inspiration are vapid or superfluous. What can be more accordant with the feelings of every genuine Christian, than devoutly to survey the distinct operations, in connexion with the perfect unity and harmony, of Father, Son, and Spirit, in the stupendous plan of redemption? The province of the Holy Spirit, in particular, however questioned by the sceptic, disfigured by the visionary, or neglected by the formalist, demands our attentive consideration. What is done by the Spirit, both in the external revelation and confirmation of the truth, and in its internal and effectual application, serves to establish our faith in his character as a divine person,
" who searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God," I and to strengthen our reliance on his gracious illuminations and aids. Since the Holy Ghost is sent forth to enlighten the understanding and purify the heart, and to prepare a people for the eternal inheritance, it was altogether fit and congruous that “ the word of truth,” the
* 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, 2–2 Pet. i. 21_1 Pet. i. 11-Acts, i. 16, ch. xxviii. 25, 26--1 Tim. iv. 1-Heb. ïïi. 7, 8., ch. x. 14, 15_Rev. xiv. 13.
Isaiah, xi. 2-John, iii. 34. f 1 Cor. ii, 10.
grand instrument he employs in his workings on the human soul, should be given by his own inspiration, and that to him Prophets and Apostles should owe their supernatural light
Were the minds of Christians more deeply impressed with the supreme dignity, authority, and wisdom of the good Spirit of God, and more frequently engaged in meditating on his excellencies as “ the Spirit of truth” and “the Spirit of love,” they would be more thoroughly furnished for investigating to advantage the nature and extent of divine inspiration, and more solicitous to display the salutary tendencies of zeal and charity happily combined—“ endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace.” O, thou Divine Spirit! send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead us. What we know not, teach thou us. How can feeble, mortal men form just and beneficial conceptions of the inspiration of the Sacred Volume, unless they be mercifully taught by the blessed Author of that inspiration ? Impart, we beseech thee, to the writer and to the readers, correct views of thine own agency in inditing the Scriptures; and suffer not a single expression to escape this pen, injurious to thy glory, or calculated to mislead the weakest member of the household of faith. Amen.
II. The divine wisdom and sovereignty appear in the choice of the individuals employed to declare by inspiration the will of God to mankind.
The same adorably wise and sovereign agency which conducts the arrangements of nature and providence, is displayed in the whole economy of grace. It belonged to God himself to determine the number, the character, the rank, the abilities and attainments of the persons commissioned to make infallible manifestations of his will to men, whether orally or by writing, and to select the individuals employed. In this, as well as in other parts of his procedure, whilst he is amenable to no human tribunal, and “giveth none account of his matters,” “the Lord of Hosts,” it is evident, “ is wonderful in counsel, and excel. lent in working.”
In the early ages of the world, immediate communications of the divine will were imparted to chosen men, as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for the advantage both of themselves and others; while, so far as appears, they were not directed to commit these communications to writing. In process of time, however, when the period of human life was greatly reduced, and oral tradition became a proportionally uncertain mode of preserving and diffusing the knowledge of God, Moses and other Prophets were not only favoured with similar revelations, but charged to record them, for the use of succeeding generations. Apostles, and other public teachers, that received supernatural gifts at the commencement of the Christian dispensation, were not universally employed as penmen of Scripture. Only six of the Apostles and two Evangelists, namely, Mark and Luke, bore a part in composing the Canon of the New Testament.
Personal godliness has not been held an indispensable requisite to those who spoke by inspiration, or who were endowed with extraordinary gifts. Balaam, an unprincipled and mercenary man, was inspired to celebrate, in lofty strains, the ercellencies of Jehovah and the privileges of Israel, and to utter an interesting prediction regarding the Messiah, as the Star that should come out of Jacob. Judas Iscariot, who gave most deplorable evidence of reigning impiety and avarice, was called and qualified, in common with the other Apostles, to preach the Gospel of the kingdom, and to confirm it by miracles. Yet, notwithstanding these, and some other exceptions, for which peculiar reasons may be assigned, vital piety did, in general, characterise the men of inspiration; and it was obviously proper that the individuals, on whom the sacred and important service of penning the Scriptures devolved, should be themselves, through grace, cordially attached to the interests of truth and righteousness. “ Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."*
The footsteps of divine wisdom and sovereignty may be traced as well in the mental talents, natural and acquired, as in the prevailing features of character, which distinguished the writers of the Old and New Testament. Moses was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” † Isaiah manifests a dig. nity of spirit and manner, worthy of royal descent.
Ezra was not only a priest, but "a ready scribe in the Law of Moses."I The wisdom of Daniel was so confessedly superior, that it was proverbially said among the Chaldeans, * Art thou wiser than Daniel ?” Paul, born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, yet educated in Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel, ll became master of Jewish literature, as well as acquainted in some degree with the writings of the Greeks. The capacity and learning of these eminent persons unquestionably proved subservient, by the agency of the inspiring Spirit, to their usefulness as sacred penmen. * 2 Pet. i. 21. † Acts, vii. 22. # Ezra, vii. 6.
$ Ezek. xxviii. 3. || Acts, xxii. 3.
says he, "
Yet in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah, Amos was called to speak and write by inspiration, though he was “an herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit." __“ The Lord took me,"
as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” * Nearly all the New Testament writers, too, originally pursued the humble occupation of fishermen, or tax-gatherers, and had no pretensions to those advantages which birth, or rank, or a liberal education, can bestow.
Since Moses, the founder of the Levitical economy, was empowered to compose the first five books of the Old Testament Scriptures, including the doctrines and laws of the religion he had been commissioned to promulgate, and since it pleased God, not only to publish the Ten Commandments, with an audible voice, in the hearing of the whole congregation of Israel, but to engrave them with his own finger on two tables of stone, many might be apt to imagine that our blessed Lord, the Divine Author of the new dispensation, having dwelt in human nature among men, and taught in their streets, would have also condescended to commit to writing, with his own hand, the details of his life and doctrine. For weighty reasons, however, into which we shall not here institute any inquiry, it seemed good to him, whose “ understanding is infinite,” that the New Testament should not contain a single fragment written by Christ himself, but be entirely composed by chosen witnesses, divinely inspired, to record his discourses and works.f It is not surprising, that, when spurious Gospels and Epistles began to infest the church, some writings appeared in the name of our Saviour himself; as an Epistle from Christ to Peter and Paul; an Epistle ascribed to him by the Manichees, A.D. 270; a short Hymn attributed to him by the Priscillianists, in the year 378; and in particular, the Epistle of Christ to Abgarus, King of Edessa, found at present in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. But all these productions, not excepting the last, are quite “unworthy of consideration.” The story of Abgarus relating to the letter he sent to our Lord, and that which he received from him, though favourably viewed by Mr Addison, and some other men of learning, $ is almost universally regarded as fabulous.
III. The inspiration communicated to the sacred writers, * Amos, vii. 14, 15.
| Note A. | Paley's Evidences of Christianity, vol. 1, pp. 164, 165.
$ Addison's Evidences of the Christian Religion, sec. i. 8. See also Dr Alexander on the True Canon of Scripture, part ii. sec. 15.; withi Append. Note 1.
ally uncertain mode of preserving and diffusing of God, Moses and other Prophets were not o
ising similar revelations, but charged to record t! succeeding generations. Apostles, and ot
sary to rethat received supernatural gifts at the e
pths which Christian dispensation, were not univers
enerating and men of Scripture. Only six of the A
us the compregelists, namely, Mark and Luke, bore
acious operation Canon of the New Testament.
y, and is also de Personal godliness has not been
se mode of it is hid quisite to those who spoke by inspir
bjects not excepted. with extraordinary gifts. Balaa
and thou hearest the cenary man, was inspired to cele e it cometh and whether cellencies of Jehovah and the r
1 of the Spirit."* Why, an interesting prediction rega
exactly the nature of that that should come out of Ja
it which was granted to a most deplorable evidence of
times, and which, for many called and qualified, in co
yond the range of human expepreach the Gospel of the Jecomes us to rest satisfied with racles. Yet, notwithstan on this point, and with those views for which peculiar reas deducible from Scripture. Acquiin general, characterise viously proper that t important service of
der protane curiosity, take notice of the fol
efects of inspiration, as common to all be themselves, thro ests of truth and riş they were moved
y reveal ercited by the Spirit to write the portions The footsteps
razmed to them respectively. Some of the holy traced as well in
Aire mentioned express commands they received to writers of the in all the wis land said unto Moses, write this for a memorial in a
maund the heavenly communications granted them.
"And the Lord said unto Moses, write thou these nity of spirit not only a
anne bir atter the tenor of these words I have made a cove
sa viththee and with Israel.”+ “Moreover,” says the Prophet The wisdo
" the Lord said unto me, take thee a great roll, and proverbia Daniel ?
in it with a man's pen, concerning Maher-shalal-hashin Jerus literatu
words that I have spoken unto thee, in a book."S
goraketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the ings o Lad answered me, says Habakkuk, " and said, Write the
may run that nent
What thou seest,” said the glorified Saviour, of th
Viim, and make it plain upon tables, that he
# Exod. xvii. 14; ch. xxxiv. 27. | Is. viii. 1. #Hab. i. 2.
Rev. i. 11.
John . 8. go' Jer. xxx. 2